Category Archives: Uncategorized

Obituary of The World’s Greatest Small Appliance

This morning I opened a brand new can of ground coffee I bought while storm shopping, and I slowly and deeply inhaled the scent of comfort with my eyes closed. There is nothing like it. The smell of coffee is erotic and promising, and warm. Brewing a full pot on a day off is like booking a vacation. It pleases me and it makes me feel good.

I filled the basket filter and turned on my 19-year-old coffee maker, pressing the power button that was once coated in clear supple plastic, now crispy and split and tinted yellow. I slid down my snow covered front porch steps taking the dogs out, tunneled a 100’ long path to bring warm water out to the hens, and came back inside frozen from sub-zero New England blizzard wind. I was expecting a hot pot of coffee.

Curiously, I didn’t smell the intoxicating aroma I expected. The light was on, but there was no coffee. The burner was not even a hint of warm. It was most certainly plugged in. The light was on, but there was no coffee. I thought I did something wrong. I checked the plug, emptied the water, refilled it, set the auto timer and waited. Nothing. I emptied it again then turned it on…nothing.

My heart literally broke, and I actually cried. Which, I rarely do. Very rarely.

I am shockingly sad. Not in a ‘record-breaking-New England-snowfall-and-no-coffee’ kind of way. After all, I can make tea, or use the Keurig to get my shoveling strength. I’m sad in a ‘been-with-me-forever-and-always-comforted-me-I’m-gonna-miss-the-hell-out-of-you-and-all-the-attached-memories’ kind of way.

I actually cried over the loss of my white plastic programmable Betty Crocker 12-cup basket coffee maker. I’m a special kind of crazy.

This coffee maker is attached to so many memories and good feelings. I remember the day I got it. I remember the aisle I stood in. I remember rationalizing the then enormous purchase. Dunkin’ Donuts was too expensive for me, and I no longer lived near a Tedeschi’s, who sold coffee for $0.35 a cup. It was a short term splurge with longer-term pay-off. It was a grown up decision and a grown up purchase. I think it cost me a whopping $20.

That year, when I filed my taxes, my gross income was less than $10,000. I was so poor that I rarely ate more than what was left on the plate of my toddler when she was finished. Coffee though, warmed and filled my belly, and I felt good. I brewed before work coffee when I was 19, working full-time days at K-Mart. I brewed before bed coffee at 11 p.m. after working part-time nights at Marshall’s. I owned exactly two cobalt blue glass coffee mugs that warmed my freezing cold hands after walking home from work. I won’t even get into how unbelievably perfect coffee was with a cigarette on the porch.

I bought frozen coffee cream at Shaw’s Supermarket for $0.25. It took some getting used to. It was gross at first, and I’m convinced it was made with some kind of oil. Yes, I said frozen cream. Yes they make that. At least they did then. And no, $0.25 is not a typo. Milk was expensive and only for my daughter. If you drank the last of the milk in my house, death would be easier. I poured half cream, half coffee and one Equal for my then boyfriend Christopher Jacobs. His reaction to coffee prepared exactly how he liked it was so important to me. He was there when I bought it. She was the last thing I packed in that apartment after he died, and I kept his coffee mug.

She was there for all my holiday meals, and various parties throughout the years. On Christmas morning, nothing happens until my coffee is made. Not a single gift is opened until momma is on the couch with a mug and a blanket. And, this coffeemaker is the one that brewed the Christmas morning coffee. During the inevitable New England hurricane or winter storm, I always brewed a pot and put it in the fridge, so that if I lost power, I could warm it up on the gas stove. Boy did that little trick get me through some crappy heat-less days (You’re welcome for that tip.)

I made room for it when I lived in an apartment that didn’t have a counter top. Counter space in any home is precious and she always had a place. When I got the Keurig, I admit it…I put her on top of the fridge for a bit, but she came back down on weekends and work-at-home days, when a full hot pot was necessary. Eventually, she kept a spot next to sink. I even bought a carafe once so that I didn’t waste electricity keeping the pot warm.

To me, coffee is personal. When I am alone it’s a treat to myself. Making a cup of coffee at home means I’m going to sit still for a bit. I’m going to savor it while it’s hot. I’ll hold the cup under my face and inhale the steam.  It pleases me. Offering coffee to friends is also personal. It’s me offering up comfort. Me telling you I want you to feel good, and relaxed, and comfortable while you’re here.

It’s funny how when you’re a touch of crazy, you associate “shit” with things.  This was one of my things that had good memories.  I’m not a hoarder, but I definitely attach feelings to things.  I’m sure that has a fucking name or comes with a diagnosis.  Whatever.  And, I know I ‘ll have to buy another one. For right now, I’m just mourning the loss and the memories I didn’t realize I attached to her. I’m also thinking about how ironic it is that the very last bit of coffee in the house was her very last pot.

She lasted 19 years. Through two children and four moves. I saved her original box until I bought my house, and proudly threw it away thinking, “I’ll never have to pack you again.” I don’t own many things that have traveled with me this long. She was with me exactly half of my life.

Riding Hot & Dirty

Blue skies, blue jeans and boots await me this weekend. It’s a perfect weekend to ride.

There will be dirt on my face.

During the last month, my 10-year-old daughter has spent only one weekend day with her dad. While I’ve recently begun riding with her on the back of my bike with more frequency (and I love that I can) it’s also true that I’ve been wishing for a childless day to be free to ride by myself. I love my babies more than life, and I enjoy and look forward to work-free/school-free time together. But, I still ache for some wind therapy.

The past few months have been some damn work. I’ve put on my game-face for life, even when I wanted to crawl inside myself. I’ve done all the things I’m “supposed to”, instead of sulking. I’ve completely behaved myself-outside of a few nasty text messages. I’ve not killed anyone. I haven’t packed up and moved away (even when it felt like that was an obvious solution), and I bought a punching bag…instead of the alternative (a throat punch to anyone who hurts my heart.) Homework is done, bedtime has been successfully met 90% of the time, the recital costume is neatly hung, tickets are purchased, I made the donation to school, attended the concert, booked seven-thousand summer camps and activities and baked the fucking cupcakes. And, in general, I suck at keeping shit organized at home. I should be able to take off for a day without feeling guilty, right? Obviously not, because I’m rationalizing the shit out of it.

There will be throttle in my fist.

I want to share my motorcycle journey with her, too. I want to take her places in a different way. I want her know no limits. I want her to create memories ON my motorcycle WITH me, and not associate the sound of pipes with someone taking off to ride for the day…without her. I want her to hear the bike warm up, and wonder “where are we going, today?”

There will be miles to cover.

I’m willing to forgo a ride on my bike, so that I can make sure we have a first-aid kit, cooler, change of clothes, and a friend to tag along when we go to the amusement park. I’m willing to leave the bike in the garage so we can take our dog Charlie to the beach. I let dust accumulate on the bike when it’s time to mow the lawn, build the new chickens a place to run, or fix the fucking steps. Again.

There will be worries to leave behind.

I’m admitting that I have been checking the weekend weather with frequency. This weekend, she’ll be spending full days with her Daddy…and Momma’s going out on the bike. I have no place to go. No place to be. No one to be accountable to. I won’t be able to answer the phone.

There will be thoughts to clear.

While I occasionally find myself pissed about his fancy-free way of life, which affords him last minute bike trips to anywhere with friends, weekends away to ride up north, jetting out at 7am to return at some after dark hour…I wouldn’t trade it for our world.

There will be wind in my ears.

I know, too well, that the days she wants to spend with me are limited, and that before I know it, I’ll have all my weekends to myself. I know that one day I won’t be needed much. I’ll eventually be an afterthought.

There will be sun on my face.

Everyone rides for different reasons. I’m not sure of my one why. There’s
solitude, independence, strength, and speed. There’s adventure, comraderie, and peace.

Riding my bike is something like therapy. Wind therapy. The difficulty with my kind of crazy is that worst-case-scenario planning is difficult on a bike. It requires fighting my own anxiety and thoughts about what could happen, and forces me to just see if it does happen. (My fear of needing help from someone else is greater than that of falling or an accident. It’s ridiculous. But, true.)

There will be heat between my legs.

Riding requires staying hyper-focused on everything around me. It requires so much concentration, that it’s difficult to give time or care to anything left back at home. There’s peace in noticing all the details…often at once. An orgasm of the senses, when sight, smell, sound and touch experience everything vividly in the sun. The details are brilliant from a saddle. The speed with which the trees pass, the sound of the gears shifting. It’s an exercise in awareness. The mind occasionally wanders from the road to the destination, and I pull it back in. Thoughts sometimes leave the tension in the clutch and the drag of the brake and wander out to notice a circling hawk. My mind can dart from the pavement and other motorists to the smell of the ocean, and back in the same second. Time on my bike is being truly present and in the moment.

And doesn’t the time go by as fast as those trees, anyway? For now, I’ll look forward to the days I ride, and cherish the ones I can’t.

This weekend, though…I’m skipping yard work, housework, and anything else that ends with or resembles “work”. I’m going to take in some sun, dirt and wind, and see where I end up.

There will be bugs in my hair.

If anyone wants to ride hot & dirty with me, let me know.



6/7/14 Update: This is what happened this morning:


Ten Facebook No-Nos

For most well adjusted people, Facebook is a great place to stay in touch with schoolmates, coworkers, friends and family. We scroll through Facebook on lunch breaks, in traffic, or while waiting in line at Starbucks. (Some of you fucks apparently don’t have a job, or you’ve made updating Facebook part of your job.) We want to see what’s up, and break the monotony of the day up with some news, a chuckle, traffic updates, or schedule of events. Let’s face it, If there’s a pandemic or terrorist attack, Facebook users will be the first to know. We want to read about your band, fundraisers, ridiculous e-cards, bar crawls, or fitness classes. (Okay, not the last one, unless you fell in the class and someone took a picture.) For the most part, people use good sense. Sometimes, there’s some dumb shit, though. Here are 10 personal recommendations:

#1. Don’t have an identity crisis. I get it, they’re your life. But…you are not your kid. Are you having an identity crisis? Are you trying to confuse the rest of us? Why are you using your kid’s photo as your profile picture? Tell your toddler to get his own Facebook account. We love to see pictures of you and your kids doing fun stuff. We even enjoy reading stories and seeing pictures of their graduation, your trip to Disney, or the newborn photos. However, making your kid’s picture your profile picture because you can’t find one of your damn self is annoying. Stop it. It’s confusing and fucks me up when I see posts or comments. I want to see your face!

#2. Don’t confuse Facebook with your favorite porn site. Guys, when you “like” posts of half naked women posted by a group called something with “Big Boobs” in the title…you’re sort of an idiot. Everyone sees it, dumb-ass. Fix your damn privacy settings. You look like a basement dwelling hormonal 15-year old-boy. We went to high school together, I really don’t want to share in your love of big boobs. It makes me not like you a little. Not because you like big boobs, boobs are great, and I love them too. It’s because you look dumb and immature. Stop it.

#3. The status update option is not for your vagina. Ladies, ladies, ladies…you’re having a baby! Awesome! I’m super happy for you. Bringing a baby into the world is amazing. What’s not amazing is you “checking in” at the Ob/Gyn office every week and telling us what they’re doing to you. Every female here has had an internal exam. We know what’s involved. We want to experience that once a year. Just once. Announce your pregnancy, show us pictures of your growing baby belly, and tell us when she’s arrived. Facebook is not the place to invite others on the “What’s Happening to My Cervix” journey. If you want to share the evolution of the cervix through pregnancy, please start a blog. I’ll follow it…if you promise to post pictures. Your junior high friends thank you, in advance, for keeping your vagina, and your cervix, to yourself. Excellent.

#4. Respect the English language. Don’t write “of coarse” or “I seen it”. Ever. Merriam Webster is your friend.

#5. Don’t take pictures of yourself in a mirror. Who does that? Are you 11? Knock it off unless it’s fucking Halloween.

#6. Don’t rant about your ex. It’s tacky. So are the people who comment, encouraging you to continue the conversation and stroke your ego. (Remember, above, how I said “most well adjusted people”? Well, these people are not. Neither are you.) You obviously either have some shit to deal with…or you want to announce you’re single and back on the market. If it’s the latter, whoo hoo! Join If you really need people to tell you what a great guy you were for taking your daughter to Jared to buy the ex a Mother’s Day gift, you need more than Facebook can offer. Oh, and by the way…your ex would have been happier with a hand made card and a wad of construction paper and glue. YOU’RE the only one who cares how much you spent.

#7. Don’t write messages to dead people…or God. Unless you really believe dead people read Facebook, in which case we probably shouldn’t be friends.). If you believe in God, I’m sure there’s a special place in Hell for people who skip mass for Facebook status updates.

#8. Don’t invite me to play games. I have a job. That is all.

#9. Be a good friend. Summer is near. Don’t tag me in a picture if I’m wearing my bathing suit. That makes you an ass-hole. I’m approaching 40. That shit’s just mean. In fact, ask my permission before you even post it. Bonus points if you Photoshop that bad boy or crop my fat ass out! This one probably applies to any woman, and gets you a throat punch if you don’t. You’ve been warned.

#10. Don’t be shady. Cryptic status updates like “I’m so annoyed!”, “I can’t believe this!” or “Worst day ever!” Are only helpful if you tell us why. Tell us why, damn it! We feel left out. However, If it’s the “worst day ever”, because you previously posted about an Ob/Gyn exam, please feel free to skip the explanation. We wish you well.

Happy posting, people! And, remember, I’d rather hear about what your daughter said while you were sitting on the toilet, over a picture of your way-too-neat family in your way-too-clean house anyday!


Are You My Mother?

Quite often I see or smell something that provokes a strong thought, a feeling, a flashback, an adrenaline rush or a belly-dropping oh-shit moment.  On May 20th it happened while scrolling through my Facebook news feed.


It was pretty average in terms of the kinds of flashbacks I have now and then.  It came in quick, punched me in the chest and moved on.  I read the title and I froze. I couldn’t hear, but the moment was so loud.

A 63-year-old woman overdosed on heroin? Here’s the fucked up thought process that follows…

Are you my mother? Shit.  Is she dead?  How old is my mother now? Is she 63? Wait! She was born in 1953. Counts upwards by tens. 1963, 1973, 1983. Gets confused. Quits. 2014-1953=61. My mother is 61? Ok. Not her. What is she doing in Mashpee? She used to buy drugs in Mashpee all the time…back when she worked in a nursing home. That was pretty fucked up. Remember those days? Not all of ’em. How did she end up in a nursing home? Who pays for that? Wait. The thud. My heart.  One big thud.  literally.  I consider it a reminder to make sure I’m paying attention to whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing at that moment. You know…driving, presenting, having a conversation. Little things.  Right, it’s not her. Right.

My heart usually starts to slow after the thud, which is good, because I hate that wicked fast beat feeling. It kind of scares me and excites me at the same time. I could cry, laugh, or fight. Maybe all three.  At once.  It’s just fucking weird. It makes my throat and under my tongue feel fluttery and I reach for it. I can hear. Only my heartbeat, but I hear it. It’s beat is so loud, like techno in slow motion.  She’s doing heroin now?  Hitting the pipe was always her thing.

My mother the “crack head”, I think to myself and wonder, When did she start using heroin?  Not her.  Right.  I know it’s not her.  Open the fucking link and just check it.  It’s not even her. I just witnessed her being sent away, six days earlier. She stood up there in handcuffs like she was totally fucking normal.  Black-eyed and white haired.  She’s not even in Mashpee.  She’s in jail.  Or, treatment.  Whatever we’re calling it these days.  90-days trouble free remember?  She’s a slippery bitch with a horseshoe up her ass, though.  She’s managed to evade jail a zillion times.  Read that shit, maybe she talked her way out of this one, too.  Why didn’t she use her master manipulation powers to, I don’t know, get me into college or pay an electric bill?  It’s not even her.  Probably not.  Read it!

Are you my mother?
I read it.
It was not my mother.  Not today.  I don’t know if she was someone’s mother.  But, she has a mother.  And a head injury.

A deep breath. A quick spot check….feel my heart, touch my throat, fix my hair.  Exhale deeply. The adrenaline wears off slowly and the headache and fatigue creep in.

It wasn’t her today. I wonder if I’ll be sad when it is her? I mean, I’m ready for the call.  The fact that I haven received it already is a friggin’ miracle. Either that, or the Irish really are just lucky.  Am I so terrible that I wouldn’t cry when my own mother dies?  Baby diaper commercials and Olympic gymnastics make me cry.  I don’t even cry when I think my mother’s maybe dead.  I’m awful.

Six days before seeing this post, I’m sitting in a courtroom watching my mother stand there in handcuffs with missing teeth and a black eye…no tears.  I learned hugs, kisses and snuggles from this woman, and I called her “Mumma” when I was little.  I fought fiercely as an adolescent to live with her, because I never wanted her to be alone. I pretended everything was okay as a teenager, because I didn’t want her to be in trouble. She never makes eye contact with me.  Still, no tears.

What’s wrong with me?  I watched a court clinician recommend she be sent away for treatment. “Sectioned” they call it.  I can remember the name, intent, and number of several legislative directives, bills and regulations for work.  Yet, while watching a judge consider taking away the personal rights of the woman who gave birth to me, I don’t even care to inquire about what “Section” they’re referring to.  I don’t care and it doesn’t matter. At this moment I’m pretty sure she’s walking out of here, she always walks.

I’m wondering what she thought when she saw me.  I’ve seen her maybe 4 times in the last 5 years. Four times too many. I’ve spoken to her less.  Mentally, I’m planning the swift walk out to my car so that I don’t have an interaction with her.  It’s my luck that I’d be the one who gets arrested for punching her face after she says some dumb shit thing. Or breathes. (Totally normal thought, right?) That’s the kind of luck I have, though.  I’m not a junkie, have a career, own a house, pay out my ass in taxes, volunteer, no unpaid speeding tickets…and I’d be the ass-hole on the news for beating up an old lady.  So, yes, swift exit.  No one provokes a rage in me like that woman.

I’m hearing accounts of living conditions that sound like a special edition of Hoarders-meets-Pitbull Rescue-meets-Intervention. I’m not exaggerating. Crack pipes and needles strewn about. DUI cases, stealing money, no utilities, prostitutes and police. Not only am I not shocked, I’m still not crying.  She trying to defend herself and she’s speaking when she’s not supposed to.  I’m trying to determine if she pretending she’s okay and everything’s normal…or if she really thinks she’s normal.  I fear it’s the later.  She usually cries.  No tears.  From either of us.  I look at her and wonder if the court officers can smell abuse, cigarettes, dogs, vodka, neglect, rotten teeth and crack on her?  I want to apologize for her.  I’m feeling sorry for her.  There was a time when this woman didn’t leave the house unless her underwear matched the shoes, bag, heels and hat that she coordinated with a button down, belted dress. She hand-made gingham curtains to match the tablecloth and napkins in our kitchen.  If she could see this woman, my mother would be sad.  Maybe I’m not sad because I don’t even know who this woman is.

Are you my mother?  Where is that woman who braided my hair precisely?  Where’s the mom who let me slide into her bed to snuggle and was always so warm?  And she was beautiful and funny.  She had a smile that still had teeth in it.  She was like a magnet.  A crazy magnet, but people were drawn to her.

I understand the impact of drugs more than I understand drugs.  Most of the time, I have no empathy and no sympathy for people who can’t pull themselves up and just deal.  I don’t feel sorry for folks who don’t have a strong moral compass, and who’s grey line between right and wrong is more like a fucking canyon.  Even if it’s chemically induced.  I detest a person who makes choices and then whines about having to deal with consequences.  Cry at home, set your alarm, and get your ass to work like everyone else.  I hate people who play victim, and scheme.  I hate when people can’t handle their own shit.   I think dependence on people or substance is weak.

Occasionally though, I’m struck so uncontrollably with feelings, that it shocks even me. Most of the time I do actually hate this person.  I mean, seriously, I’ve had visions of reaching in and pulling her throat out.  Once, I mentally drove my car through the front of her house.  That’s normal, right? (If you’re thinking “oh, hate is such a strong word”, believe me I know. It’s actually not strong enough.  But I can grit my teeth and spit when I say it, so I like it.)  Sometimes I feel something, and the idea that she provokes something resembling a feeling-other than hate-makes me mad.  I still wonder who my mother is.  When she’s in trouble I always feel so bad for her.  She usually becomes child-like in her confusion and I feel guilty not rescuing.  Today, I’m just here to witness.

They took her away that day. “Up to 90-days”, they said.  I wanted to say that she was taken away a long time ago, but I didn’t say anything.  I don’t know who they took.

I closed Facebook.

Where is my mother?

If she hurt you, I’m sorry.  If she stole from you, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry she got so fucked up.  I think she maybe always was a little wild, but it was manageable and she was functional.  Until she met Dr. Feelgood.  I’m sure I still love her.  From way over here.  I just can’t help her.

Drugs and alcohol take people away. Loving and fun people are replaced with strangers who have similar traits. Their replacements are weak, sorry, vulnerable, in pain, and need help.

Drugs and alcohol take non-users, too. Their replacements are hard, tired, in pain, and need help. (Not me, though. I’ve totally got this. wink!) Seriously, I think I used to be nicer. And gentle.  And forgiving, and empathetic.  I trusted and gave second chances and I believed in change.  I don’t do a whole lot of that now.  Not that I don’t ever do it, I just don’t do it often.  I’m not blaming the addict, that’s my own shit.  Don’t go clicking the comment button to rip into me about the disease, or the gene, the effects of mental illness, or the lack of services.  In a stronger moment, I could probably speak in front of congress about the needs of mental health and substance abuse patients and families. So settle down social-work-warrior.

What I am saying is this…

No throats were yanked out.  No houses were driven through.
Senior citizens apparently DO do use heroin. And crack. So do children.
Help them if you can do it without hurting yourself, or your family. Help them until you can hardly help yourself.
Walk away when you know you have to.
Don’t judge other people when they do finally walk (or run screaming.) Not everyone can help.
Not everyone can be helped.
Epidemic is overused and we’re desensitized to it. We need a better word for ‘major fuck show of a drug problem’.